Don’t offer your ‘thoughts and prayers’

Accept the reality of mass shootings: this is what you wanted

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

UTMikeColLogo copyDon’t bother sharing your “thoughts and prayers.”

The truth is, the slaughter of 49 innocent people in Orlando Sunday is exactly what you chose.

Just as you chose the slaughter in Charleston, Sandy Hook, Aurora and dozens more. You also choose the shootings in Coatesville which of late seem to be a monthly event.

Before you sputter in protest that you didn’t want anyone to get shot, you, a Republican majority in Chester County, have repeatedly voted for elected officials backed, cowed and funded by the National Rifle Association. They, in turn, have fought any limits on guns — Assault Weapons (oh, oops, in politically correct language, we must call them “long guns” rather than the more accurate “slaughter machines”), universal background checks and the like.

So, say what you want — but it’s just words. Your actions reveal your real opinion.

Don’t you dare mourn, offer prayers or condolences. You enabled this and need to own it. The blood is on your hands because this is the outcome you wanted.

And your sophisticated arguments such as “But, terrorism” are equally full of crap. The killer in Orlando was mentally disturbed, under FBI surveillance and expressed radical positions and had deep issues with gay people — but there was no way to stop him from stopping by his local shop and buying an AR-15 with an extended mag.

Before you spout off some laughable nonsense about Second Amendment Rights — just stop. It’s bad enough you’re lying to us, but, for God’s sake, stop lying to yourself.

The entire rights argument has been nothing but a big lie. Rights have never been threatened —  never. Despite the claims that President Barack Obama was going to take your guns away, the past seven years have seen more guns sold than during any similar period in history. Estimates suggest that there are nearly 300 million guns in America.

This is now and has been for a generation about nothing more than money. When the gun industry backed a hostile takeover of the NRA in the late 1970s, it was about selling more guns, regardless of the consequences. Follow the money.

Its been about using fear as a profit center and you fell for it. A cottage industry of lobbyists, media types, lawyers and public relations’ people have sucked up to the gun rights lobby like remoras, and they, too, profit from death. Your politicians — from state legislators to Presidents — either don’t care or are afraid of the NRA and take their money and vote for their narrow agenda.

And you keep voting for them.

So, no, you don’t get to mourn. No. No.

If you had any intellectual honesty, you’d celebrate the victims as surrendering their lives for the cause of freedom, but maybe deep down you know what a load of rubbish that is.

The blood is on your hands. Live with it — that’s more than the 49 victims in Orlando can say, or for that matter the thousands of others who will die in the U.S. this year. Or, most likely, the teen boy whom probability suggests will be shot to death this summer in Coatesville, probably with a gun purchased through a loophole.

Be honest. Own it. This is what you chose.

Can you live with that?

* * *

Meanwhile, in Harrisburg: the Roman Catholic Church is strong-arming politicians to prevent an extension of the statute of limitations for child molesters and the institutions and organizations that protect them.

Despite the fact that the state House of Representatives passed the bill by large and bipartisan margin, the bill to extend the statute of limitations — needed because so many of the victims were kids at the time and have only come to terms with what happened to them many years later — seems likely to die in the state Senate, as the Church and Archbishop Charles Chaput have ramped up efforts to battle the bill.

Church leaders have gone so far to as have elected officials attacked in their own parishes — overtly political behavior that should be illegal given the church’s tax-exempt status.

Again, just to recap: the Roman Catholic Church is working to protect child molesters and restrict the rights of their victims, kids, molested by priests.

I come from a Roman Catholic family (my great uncle was a priest), but long ago found the many contradictions, sexism and cruelty of the church incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ. But were I still a member, this would be the end for me.

If you continue to attend mass, continue to send your kids to Catholic schools, you’re supporting child molesters over their victims — consider that this Sunday when you’re sitting in your pew feeling all holy. Or, maybe you can vote with your feet — stay away. Pull your kids out of school. Let them know why.

You could continue to do nothing. But just like with the gun issue, don’t express sadness for the victims. Don’t say how awful it is.

Because you are enabling it, you own it.

Can you live with that?

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  1. Jeff Hellrung says:

    There is a case for reasonable restrictions on guns and purchasers of guns while respecting Second Amendment rights and this case should be addressed carefully and thoughtfully through our political processes. But charging Chester County Republicans with enabling this horrible crime is off the mark and claiming that Chester County Republicans actually wanted this massacre to happen is beyond outrageous. Over the top assertions such as this just promote polarizing our society and poison our political processes. Such irresponsible journalism makes it that much more difficult for constructive and respectful dialogue in our common interests as Americans.

    Pundits and politicians who ignore the clearly expressed Radical Islamic motivations of that Orlando murderer are much more complicit in that crime than Second Amendment advocates. Radical Islam is at war with the West and our traditions of freedom and tolerance and is both encouraging and exporting violence and hatred around the world. Yet many of our leaders refuse to even name our enemy. If we cannot even name our enemy, it becomes much more difficult to resist and to assert our own values in response. A struggle over Islam is reshaping the world. We need to engage in that struggle and support mainstream Islam against violent strands of Islamic Radicalism that distort and seek to destroy both a respected world religion and western civilization.

    If Radical Islam prevails, we can forget about freedom of the press and freedom of speech such as we are exercising in this forum. Let’s work together both to improve our society and to defend it against our enemies.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Let me again repeat what we call the “nut graph” in the business, the passage that basically sums up the premise:

      “Before you sputter in protest that you didn’t want anyone to get shot, you, a Republican majority in Chester County, have repeatedly voted for elected officials backed, cowed and funded by the National Rifle Association. They, in turn, have fought any limits on guns — Assault Weapons (oh, oops, in politically correct language, we must call them “long guns” rather than the more accurate “slaughter machines”), universal background checks and the like.

      So, say what you want — but it’s just words. Your actions reveal your real opinion.”

      Here are facts:

      A. Congressional and State Legislative Republicans have blocked virtually every, as you put it, “reasonable restriction on guns and purchases” of guns.

      B. Said elected officials have been overwhelming funded by the National Rifle Association.

      C. All have been routinely and overwhelmingly supported by Chester County Republican voters.

      These are documented facts.

      So, one can draw one of two conclusions from this data:

      A. Chester County Republicans in general support these positions, back candidates accordingly and bear responsibility for the outcome.

      B. Chester County Republicans just blindly pull the “R” lever without really thinking about what their candidates stand for.

      I opted for A, assuming that Chester County Republicans are smart, well informed and understand the implications of their actions.

      It isn’t poor journalism, its commentary (and marked clearly as such). But it is commentary that points out the facts, no matter how unpleasant, how uncomfortable and draws reasonable conclusions.

      The facts remain these: if “sensible gun” control were truly a priority of the Republican voters of Chester County, you could be darn sure it would be a priority of the elected officials.

      I’m saying “hey, this is what you picked.” So, is the problem that someone said that, or what you picked?

      • Jeff Hellrung says:

        The problem, Mike, is your claim that Chester County Republicans wanted the Orlando murders to happen. You didn’t repeat that in your response to my note so I welcome you back to the world of civil discourse. I’m hoping that you will have the decency to apologize for that outrageous and false accusation against your Republican neighbors and fellow Anericans but that may be too much to hope for.

        I’m not convinced by your arguments against Chesco Republicans based on their lack of support for gun controls. First of all, gun controls are only one issue among many that influence voting decisions. Secondly, we have already banned the most dangerous weapons, including automatic rifles, and instituted background checks on gun purchasers. The 2013 Tooney-Manchin amendment would have expanded background checks and Senator Toomey is now calling for restrictions on gun purchases from people on terror watch lists. This may have prevented the Orlando murders. I hope it gets bipartisan support. So it is not true that Republicans never support gun restrictions. Cities controlled by Democrats, like Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, with the most restrictions on gun ownership, seem to have the highest murder rates.

        I don’t blame the NRA for advocating for Second Amendment rights. I do worry that special interests in general, including the NRA, have too much influence in government.
        We need to elect representatives who will vote for our overall best interests and not be unduly influenced by any special interest.

        The AR-15, similar to the weapon used in Orlando, is a semiautomatic rifle. It is useful for both hunting and defense. It was banned from 1994-2004 by federal law. During the ten years of the ban, the murder rate in the USA was 6.7 per 100,000 people. In the ten years after the ban expired it dropped to 5.1 per 100,000. Furthermore, weapons like the AR-15 were used exclusively in only 12% of the mass public shootings from 2009-2015. So it’s not clear that banning semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15 would reduce murder rates. What we need is reasonable and thoughtful gun control policy that respects our right to bear arms. We also need responsible gun ownership and a legal system that will protect us from violent criminals. That is what I think most Republicans support.

        • Turk182 says:

          Wow. What an insulting, condescending response.

          • Jeff Hellrung says:

            Dear unknown unnamed responder. In my note, I criticized Mike for his claim that Chesco Republicans actually wanted the Orlando murders to happen. I pointed out that most of us Republicans are not single issue voters. I lamented the often undue influence of special interests in our political process. I pointed out that more controls on guns may not result in less gun violence and that some municipalities with the most gun controls actually have the most gun violence. How could you miss all of that and only find “insulting” and “condescending” in your exclusively ad hominem response? Why can’t we identify ourselves, take a stand, and debate important public issues hoping that the result will be better public policy?

        • Mike McGann says:

          Evidently, I picked the wrong day to be out of the office for the morning on business.

          No, I will not apologize for expressing my opinion.

          You misrepresent my position — I said that voters chose the conditions to allow this and a series of massacres (and the roughly 11,000 gun homicides in the last year) to happen by voting for candidates who oppose all gun control measures and thus should take responsibility for them.

          Your own response admits as much suggesting that GOP voters aren’t “single issue” voters and are choosing to vote on other issues, allegedly. Acts of omission remain acts of volition.

          Spouting NRA talking points doesn’t change the facts on the ground: people keep on dying from gun violence and a portion of the population is OK with that fact. Live with it or do something to change it.

          • Jeff Hellrung says:

            Mike, if you had said the above in the first place, I would not have even responded. You cannot escape what you said. You actually said “The blood is on your hands because this is the outcome you wanted.” That is what you should apologize for. I always welcome hearing your opinions. Everything else in your oped is fair game for debate and, hopefully, better public policy. In that regard, I sure wish that you would have asked the question of weather or not gun restrictions work. There is a lot of data out there since our states and municipalities have enacted an array of restrictions. Unfortunately for the case you are trying to make, greater restrictions have not led to less gun violence.

  2. Vince Schiela says:

    Bold and courageous. thank you

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